M-x Kelsin

A Hacking Blog

Unpleasant Guitar Center in Framingham

So I’ve been meaning to do three things for my music creation.

  • Buy monitor speakers
  • Upgrade to Logic 9
  • Upgrade Zendrum

I realized on Sunday that I had two guitar center coupons (from the mail) that I wanted to use. One was for $50.00 off of a purchase of $400.00 or more. The second was 15% off of a midi interface. Now I figured I wouldn’t be able to use both together, but I might as well try right?

I went it and picked up a pair of KRK Rockit 6’s (I had generation 1 rockit 5’s a long time ago and liked them even though they did eventually die on me). The store guy of course told me how I couldn’t get 15% off of the midi interface I wanted to buy and I was ok with that. I just want to point out that if coupons are able to be used on two separate purchases, you should be able to use them together. Anyway this just meant that I would not be buying the midi interface from Guitar Center so overall their loss.

Moving back to the main complaints. This sales guy tries to sell me on their replacement program of course. For $20.00 a speaker I can get my money back if something breaks in the next 2 years. These speakers have a warranty of 3 years from KRK and I don’t travel with them or anything so I told him I don’t need it. A little push back but whatever. After this he went through the process of checking Caitlin’s license (we were putting it on her card) and swiping her card. He also got my email and stuff like that. It took a while.

After this he said he had to get this approved… and walked away. We were spending a total of $371.00, not quite a large amount. I could spend multiple times this at a best buy without needing approval but whatever. He comes back with an older salesman.

This older dude then said (after looking at my account on their screen) “You don’t want your money back?”. After I said “what?” he repeated himself so I said “What money?”. He then tried to sell me AGAIN on the replacement program. I told him how I already said I didn’t want it. He then kept pushing and talking about how it’s not a scam. I’m sorry but I know that Guitar Center doesn’t give a shit about me. If the replacement program costs $20.00 a speaker it means that they make money at $20.00 a speaker on it.

Anyway, this took a while to explain to him that I already said I didn’t want it, and I meant it. After this had asked to check MY license (after saying that it’s not my card) AND Caitlin’s license and card AGAIN.

Come on, in this day and age you need to make me want to travel out to your store instead of buying things online. This experience (while not horrible in any way) doesn’t make me want to go back to this store at all.

Fixing some gem install issues

Good command to help fix gem problems:

gem pristine --all

Thanks to raggi in #eventmachine on freenode!

Final Fantasy XIII


Just a bit of back story. I never played a Final Fantasy game until X (and I played that one about a year after it was out). Since then I have only managed to play VI and VII and about 1/2 of XII. I am going to go back for XII for sure cause I did enjoy it, but not near at the level of X and XIII. VI was great but the battle system is not as interesting as all of the following ones. I would have to say that X is my favorite but I might change that after I finish XIII. I’m almost done with the story and plan on doing many of the extra things.

The story is what I expected. I think it’s neat but it’s very typical of other recent Final Fantasy games. Cool world filled with crazy technology and people that dress VERY colorfully. I’m not going to say too much about the story. I don’t require an amazing story to like a game, this story is interesting and keeps me engaged. The characters are fleshed out even if they are cliche and that’s fine for me!

The battle system is amazing. The first 3 hours (or so) can be misleading. Keep playing through it cause the system get’s cooler.

You only ever control your main characters. You basically have a bar (starts at 3 segments and can have 6 if you get a characters ultimate weapon). You put actions on the segments (Some spells take 2 or 3) and then execute them all at the same time. In order to not waste time you have to place all of your actions before your bar refills. You can quickly execute less that a full bar if you need to, or cancel things that haven’t happened yet (if you’re quick) in order to do something else with the unused portion of your bar. That sounds complicated but it’s really not. Basically you have lots of real time control to pick what to do.

Most fights you can just hit “auto” and let your character do it for you. I think this is a GOOD THING, cause it makes trash fights easy. The characters auto cast things the mob is weak to, won’t cast things they are immune to, generally behave pretty awesome. The “auto” selection is pretty much what you’re other two characters are doing as well (only slightly smarter since they have to pick their target automatically too). If you are selecting an action without thinking you can now hit “auto” and you can actually pick things manually when you need to. Sometimes this doesn’t work but in this system I think it’s perfect.

Now comes the fun part, at any time during combat (ANY time) you can change your paradigm. Basically you can change the job of each of your party members to one of 6 “decks”. You can make the decks anything you want in the menus between combat. The job choices are as follows:

Magic damage dealer
Physical damage dealer

So this means one second you are working with Com / Rav / Rav (more about this in a section) and suddenly the boss hits you all for a lot! You switch to Com / Sen / Med or even Sen / Med / Med to heal up and then switch back. It’s great. It keeps you engaged in EVERY battle (including trash) while not becoming tedious and boring (so far). I absolutely adore it. You may think that you’ll only ever switch between the two I just mentioned (or something similar) but if you did fights would take a long time due to the next bit.

Every mob has a bar that fills up the more you hit it. The bar usually starts at 100% and increases as you hit the mob. The more you hit the mob, the more damage you do! Easy! The trouble is the bar doesn’t stay filled, it slowly goes back to 100%. If you manage to fill it (the filling point is different on different mobs) the mob gets staggered and you can do MASSIVE damage to it. For example: If a mob has a 130% stagger mark, then as soon as you hit 130% it jumps to 230% and increases much faster up to 999%. Once staggered you have a certain amount of time before the bar resets to 100%.

Now here’s the cool part, the amount the bar increases / the speed at which it depletes / and the time in stagger is dependent on what you do to the mob. Ravagers fill the bar VERY quickly while not doing as much damage as Commandos. Commando’s keep the chain from depleting fast while doing a bit more damage (As a side note: Ravagers do have physical attacks that chain fast, and Commandos have magic attacks that keep the chain from depleting so you aren’t screwed if a mom is immune to physical for instance). If you do fill it up all the way with only ravagers (hard to do unless you use ALL three ravagers on a mob whose bar fills up fast) the stagger time won’t be much. If you have at least one Commando in your party the bar won’t go down fast at all (plenty of time to switch paradigm’s, heal, then come back). Once you do stagger a mob you generally want to keep Ravagers in the mix to get it to 999% as fast as possible. Once it is as 999 switching to more commandos helps doe more actual damage on the mob.

Sentinels also keep the bar moving down slowly but not as reliably. Having a group of Sen / Com / Med is awesome since the Commando keeps the chain going (you won’t lose it despite not adding to it very fast), the Sentinel takes hits (they taunt) and do it while taking little damage (guarding and counter-attacking) while the medic heals you up. Even if you have to Sen / Med / Med you can normally get back to a damage paradigm after without losing your chain if you react fast enough.

All of this chaining business means that fights are very different from each other. Different ones have different parameters changing the way your paradigms affect things. Some bosses need buffing or debuffing. Some only one healer is ok while others need a tank or a healer and a tank. Figuring out optimal paradigms in each case is an awesome addition to otherwise standard fights.

I can’t get enough of this battle system. Every boss is a great challenge! You do hit X a lot to do the auto actions, but you are doing it while constantly switching jobs, and every once in a while (or a lot in a complicated boss fight) you go manual and have to pick actions. I think this completely kills the boring fights that many other games have while keeping you engaged and giving you a feeling like you’re improving at the game while your character’s stats are improving.

The leveling system is typical. You have a thing you drop points into that add to your stats. Very familiar if you have played FFX. The difference is at end game the characters are very different from each other still. They all don’t have access to every ability even if they have access to ever job. I think this is a huge improvement. Not having everyone on the same grid means that the end game will still be interesting.

The game has everything about FFX that I loved. Ultimate weapons that can be hard to get. Tons of monsters and missions to beat after the game ends. Crazy monsters. Graphics are stunning. Some things though are improved. There are no towns! You buy things at save points. This just helps (again) remove a boring part of play. There are plenty of NPC’s around but you don’t have to talk to them individually. Walk by them and you hear what they’re saying! These changes just make playing a FF game even more fluid and fun.

A quick point that I found great: You can’t miss ANYTHING during normal play through. Everything can be gotten AFTER the final fight of the game so you don’t need to worry about getting every chest if you don’t want to (might save you some money here and there, but there will be nothing you can’t get again via shops or mob kills). No missing a critical steal on a boss (there’s no stealing at all actually). Another great change from some of the other games.

Anyway I love it and can’t wait to get home and play some more. Most of my friends have not liked this game very much mainly saying that the game is too linear. I don’t see an issue. The game makes you follow a story through 60% of it, but all FF games do so I don’t know what people were expecting. The game exceeded my expectations in all of the right ways!

Bayonetta Review

I preordered Bayonetta immediately after a friend told me about how awesome it sounded. I had been a big fan of the Devil May Cry series already so it’s not a huge leap that I would love this game since it seemed to take the same attitude towards gameplay and style.

I LOVED this game. The gameplay is outstanding. It’s just the right length. It has tons of re-playability. It rewards you early and often for good gameplay and the combo/ranking system is easy to understand yet super hard! It’s my favorite out of all of the combat-centric-stylized-combat games I’ve played yet.

The gameplay feels like a fighting game. You have a TON of combos all made up of the two attack buttons (Punch and Kick). Depending on what weapons you have equipped you can do different attacks. Throughout the game you can earn weapons that you can permanently equip. You start with guns on your hands and feet (as you see in the videos for the game) and can earn stuff like a sword, ice skates, shotguns (for hands and feet), a whip, etc. Also throughout the game enemies will drop some really powerful (and often slow) weapons that you can equip and use for a short time.

The dodging aspect of the game is the best part. Hitting the right trigger makes your character dodge an incoming attack. The dodging works great and I never felt like I dodged and got hit during the dodge (Plenty of times when I think I dodged but Bayonetta didn’t start the dodge before being hit but that’s par with the course). The enemies do NOT hesitate in attacking you even if you are dealing with a different enemy. This makes dodging really important. If you are in the middle of a combo and you here the sound of an off-stage enemy shooting you with his angel horn, you better watch for the projectile and dodge at the right time!

Two aspects make the dodging even more useful. If you dodge at the last second (except in the hardest difficultly mode) you start Witch time which is basically this games bullet time. You can hit projectiles back to their shooters, and generally get some big combos off during witch time. You can also keep a combo going during a dodge. If you are trying to pull off a A-A-A-B-B combo and have to dodge during the third A just hold it down and continue the combo after (hopefully during witch time!)

You do have an energy bar that can help you accomplish many times. By default every full bar lets you do a torture attack on an enemy. These attacks DO stop the battle for a second while Bayonetta summons some type of torture device and does major damage to your current target with it. These all require some sort of button mashing or stick spinning (I don’t think it’s too much though) and deal a ton of damage. Your energy goes away a bit every time you’re hit though so pulling these off can be quite tough.

The only other use of energy comes from many accessories that you can buy. Most allow you to hit A+B to use energy to do something, whether it’s make you invulnerable to one hit, or do damage, etc. This combined with your weapon choice provide a lot of options in how you want to play. You can be more offensive or defensive as you see fit.

I can’t say enough about how much I enjoyed this game. As soon as Caitlin finishes Mass Effect II I could see myself picking it up again to finish the Non-stop Climax (hardest) difficulty mode. I submitted my Penny-Arcade contest submission for beating Hard but I haven’t heard anything yet about if I made the cut to receive a shirt. I hope I did!

Bash Completion in OS X

I realized today that I don’t have bash completion turned on in OS X. A quick search for the file I’m used to in Ubuntu (/etc/bash_completion) didn’t turn up anything. I quickly found that bash_completion is available in mac ports (which I use a lot). I quickly ran “sudo port install bash_completion”. The text that was printed after the install advised me to put a line into my start files which I added into my bashrc. Now bash completion works great.

An easy way to check if you do have bash completion turned on is to try and autocomplete a directory name after typing cd on the prompt. For example, in my ~/Documents folder I had one file and one directory starting with M. If I type “cd M” and hit tab I will see the file and the folder if I don’t have completion and only the folder if I do.